Posted by: Jenny Rogers | August 3, 2012

I didn’t have a childhood, but I do have a dream

There are many organizations seeking to ‘do good’ in the world. From Feed the Children to Compassion International and World Vision, we know that thousands of children around the world are being ‘adopted’ by someone to insure their education, health and well-being. But what about the children who are asked to take on grown up responsibilities at age eight or nine who never go to school, yet have children of their own and take on the role of adulthood at the earliest of ages? These are the children that fall through the cracks, because once their cute smiles and innocent, wide eyes are replaced with the ravages of time, a few wrinkles, maybe gray hair and a sigh, no one seems to notice them. For some reason, these people become blamed for perpetuating the cycle of ignorance and poverty, yet they were never nurtured and educated in the first place. It’s not their fault.

The dreams of a child are usually easily defined, simply spoken, believed in and attainable–because nothing is impossible. A personal dream is the thing at the belly of the soul that longs to be breathed out; brought to life. It is that part of a person that fills the hole within to make one whole. Dreams give us purpose, joy, fulfillment, a goal. We need a star to hang our hat on, don’t we? Even a little one.

So this child who has a child becomes head of the household in a blink of an eye. And she puts away childish dreams–if she ever enjoyed the luxury of having them in the first place. But her soul knows that she has been robbed. Maybe she can’t put her finger on it, but she knows that she must, whatever the cost, help her own child have a dream; a different life; something better; an education; a chance. And so she works in the fields, chops down trees, cuts firewood, walks miles to town to sell the firewood burdening her burro’s back; mounting the donkey to return ‘home’ at the end of the day. One young girl rises at 1:00 a.m. every morning to begin the daily washing of her client’s laundry in order to provide for her growing family: uniforms for school, rice, beans, eggs. A daily visit to the Comedor Infantil gives her children one meal five days a week so that her two Lempira can be saved for the weekends. What should she buy this time? One egg? A handful of beans or rice? She chooses the egg and beats it well, then drops it into a pot of simmering water seasoned with onion and cilantro, splitting it nine ways.

The hardships are many. Not enough to count in an hour. But the blessings are equal, measured by a sweet treat or clothing donation, soup kitchen meal or single Lempira pressed into the hand by a warm and loving mother figure, Clementina Martinez (or her mother, the example).

“What are your dreams now?” I ask, since her children are grown enough and there is still a future on it’s way to becoming the new dawn. “To learn to sew,” one tells me; “I’d like to read,” says another. “Be a nurse or take care of elderly people; birth babies; massage therapy.” “To be a painter.”

Suddenly I am aware of how much the same we all are: children with dreams deferred, trying to grab hold of one now. It is possible.


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